Wild: A Book, A Movie and an Invitation to the Trail
Cheryl Strayed's story of her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail hits movie theaters today in the film adaptation starting Reese Witherspoon. Millions of moviegoers will get their first look at the Pacific Crest Trail and the powerful experiences found on trail. We're hoping it inspires new and experienced hikers alike to hit the trail and become lifelong trail advocates.
“It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental.”
— Cheryl Strayed, Wild
Pacific Northwest writer Cheryl Strayed's story of her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail hits movie theaters today in the film adaptation starting Reese Witherspoon. Millions of moviegoers will get their first look at the Pacific Crest Trail and the powerful experiences found on trail. We're hoping it inspires new and experienced hikers alike to hit the trail and become lifelong trail advocates.
As a hiker, you were introduced to the joy of being out there by someone, somewhere. I had the privilege of being raised in a hiking family, but for others, that someone was a writer, someone whose outdoor adventures—or misadventures—sounded the call: Jack London, Jack Kerouac, Edward Abbey, Gary Snyder, Bill Bryson, Jon Krakauer. Cheryl Strayed.
What to watch after you've seen Wild
Strayed’s journey as a hiker was also inspired by a book, Pacific Crest Trail Vol. 1: California. She has since written her own trail story, one that is inspiring a wave of new hikers. For some—and in particular for women—reading Wild (or watching movie adaptation) may provide the only invitation they’ll ever get to try a local trail. It may be the spark that ignites a lifetime love for trails and the outdoors.
Whatever the origin of that spark, a love for hiking and a passion for trails is something we shouldn’t deny anyone. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)—and all of Washington’s trails—will probably see more boot traffic in the coming years. That’s a good thing.
Wild or no, we can’t stop time. Thru-hiking a trail like the PCT now is going to be a different experience than it was 5, 10 or 20 years ago. If more hikers seek out a trail experience for solitude, that means more boots and hearts tracking down neglected trails and stepping up for trail maintenance and protections. It means more advocates demanding restored trail funding and maybe even the creation of new long trails, multi-day routes and grand loops through the Cascades.
None of our trail stories are identical. We may not all head into the wilderness to reclaim something lost or make the mistake of carrying an overstuffed Monster pack into the Mojave. But we’ve made other mistakes and learned from them. We’ve sought, found and now fight for something we can only experience in the act of doing of it. Our trails are something that can’t be hoarded, that become richer in sharing and that are more meaningful when their stories contain multitudes.
More resources and inspiration
Adapted from the Nov+Dec 2014 issue of Washington Trails magazine. Join WTA to get your one-year subscription.